In my biweekly blog series, I am highlighting some of the incredible people who work for the Audio Video Industry. In this post, we are profiling Essam Refaie. Here is his brief introduction.
Essam Refaie is the Senior Technology Consultant at Aurecon, a consultancy firm located in Melbourne, Australia. He is a Certified Technology Specialist for both Design and Installation (CTS-D & CTS-I) from the AVIXA organization. He was also awarded the Oceania Young AV Professional of the Year award from AVIXA, in 2018.
1. Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
Well, I grew up with a passion for technology and so my interest for the AV industry started in my mid university years in 2005, specifically with reading and learning about home automation and smart home solutions. I had proposed the idea of a smart home prototype for one of my senior year projects which I consider my first step towards a career in the industry as it was technically the first project I ever delivered. In 2010, after completing my degree I dedicated all my effort to land a job in the industry and I successfully did with a leading commercial and residential system integrator in Egypt and the Gulf Area (Circuit Holding) as an AV sales and design engineer. Later, I moved to Qatar as the Technical Manager of another reputable regional System integrator (Quality Integrated Systems) and then came my big move to Australia which had me shifting to the other side of the business as a consultant in a local consultancy firm and currently I am leading the technology consultancy operation in the Melbourne office of one of the leading multinational consultancy firms (Aurecon). Now that I am here I could say that I had my career episodes diversified between sales, design, and project management roles in both integration and consultancy sectors, worked in 4 different countries, got awarded the 2018 young AV professional of the year in Oceania by AVIXA , and looking forward for more to come.
2. What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry?
I don’t really see much of challenges once you get into the industry, I would say it’s more of the lack in information available to the people who may have an interest in the industry but don’t really know where or how to start. The thing about our industry is that it’s only learned by experience and till now there’s not enough resources available out there to help and encourage the individuals who are looking forward to kick start their career in this industry. That’s why I believe that we all as industry professionals should contribute into bringing more professionals into the industry by transferring our knowledge and experience in any suitable way and equip them early on in their journey with the industry.
3. What are the positives of working in this industry?
Frankly speaking, it never gets boring or I never feel that I am on an auto pilot mode doing the same every day. Every project regardless of its size is a challenge, literally everyday we learn about a new technology or a product which helps in delivering a better experience to our clients. Also, I strongly believe that with technological advancement happening on a daily basis the industry reach is just expanding and it’s getting to be more and more about delivering and exceptional user experience regardless of the hardware included in the room.
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4. What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent?
Well, I would love to see the industry completely focusing on the end user experience and needs, and to also expand the reach and ditch defining it as only Audio Visual any more as its expanding everyday to include everything related to the enduser from the meeting booking process to the type of the virtual reality gear to be used if you are attending a concert remotely to the enduser experience in a sports facility before he even leaves his house.
Also repositioning the industry pillars, the consultants need to act more on the advisory, verification, and compliance side, while the detailing and technical delivery shall be handled by the system integrators, that of course as a start requires all parties to get the point that acting for one benefit which is delivering an exceptional user experience will lead to a well established and widely beneficial industry for all of us. The industry suppliers in my opinion should also put more effort into getting together and really thinking of what is beneficial for the industry, I am aware of course that the commercial factor is the main drive for all parties but still delivering a solid fit to purpose products and solutions to the end-users will end up for everyone’s benefit. For example most of the suppliers if not all are still thinking of the box to box signal transmission and not seriously looking into having the technology built in the endpoints, eventually it’s all digital signals so technically there’s nothing stopping it from happening, unfortunately as I am noticing now that such a change is coming from outside of the industry typically from the ICT industry giants.
5. Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you?
I believe that our role as industry professionals is to deliver the best fit for purpose and cost effective solutions for the clients. An ideal client is one who completely believes in that and is aware and comfortable with us collecting as much information as possible from the stakeholder and end users. Being a strong supporter of standardising the industry through certifications such as the AVIXA CTS program and also being one of the only handful count of people in Australia who are dual certified from AVIXA, I would really like to see the clients aware of such a standardisation approach and how it helps with delivering their work with competency, experience and ethical behaviour.
6. If you were going to start over, what would you do differently?
The only difference I can think of is that I would have put more effort into passing knowledge to younger peers and new recruits in the industry and try as much as possible to bring people with interest to join in and support them.
7. Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?
As the lead of the Melbourne office AV team of one of Australia’s leading multidisciplinary consultants; I have lots on my plate such as different scale projects design and governing, meetings with clients and suppliers, business development activities and so on. So a typical day for me will be to mainly look after the current projects in hand with at least a couple of clients and suppliers meetings or new projects and leads following. I do keep a habit of having the first hour in the morning dedicated to going through the industry and supplier’s news and preparing ahead for the day to be as productive as possible.
8. Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
My digital note book and Microsoft To Do app are two of the most important things I use to make sure I am not missing out on any activity in my day. Of course also communication apps such as Skype for business and zoom to stay in touch with all the teams and facilitate the communications specially since we act in a virtual office mode as we deliver projects nationally and internationally. That’s of course in addition to the typical Microsoft Office package, AutoCAD, Visio, Revit and project and design management tools such as D-Tools and Aconex.
9. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
Firstly, I would like to thank the guys at rAVe because rAVe and other similar platforms are making it easier for us to stay updated with their daily comprehensive content and highlights of the industry. In addition to attending the industry events such as the Infocomm and ISE, the main things I do to stay up to date is attending selective supplier’s trainings and catching up with the industry local suppliers, representatives and professionals.
To know more about him or his business, please connect with him on Linkedin.
Also please drop your questions in the comments below and I will make sure that he sees them.